Business Matters

Business Matters

A Tall Order

Remember that commercial building that was approved near the Braddock Road Metro station? Well forget about it.

This weekend, members of the Alexandria City Council approved a development special use permit for Braddock Metro Place that spikes that old commercial building in favor of a larger residential building. Planning officials recommended an option that adhered to height limits stipulated in a small-area plan, although the Planning Commission recommended a higher building in addition for affordable housing units.

“The height limit was hotly contested,” said Planning Director Faroll Hamer. “From my point of view, it was about staff credibility.”

Planning Commission members and City Council members were not concerned about staff credibility, setting aside the height limits in the plan to get affordable housing units. During the public hearing on Saturday, several speakers opposed the proposal.

“It's like putting 10 pounds of potatoes into a five-pound sack,” said Nancy Hughes, who lives near the site. “It will tower over everything.”

“We're trying to cram too much into this,” agreed former Vice Mayor Andrew Macdonald. “It sounds more like a marketing document than an analysis.”

Vice Mayor Kerry Donley disagreed with Macdonald. He said the principles of “smart growth” call for the highest density development to be located near Metro stations. As a result, he said, he set aside criticism of abandoning the height limit specified in the small-area plan in favor of accepting 40 new units of affordable housing.

"I appreciate the platitudes and the euphemisms and the generalities,” responded Donley. “A lot of what he's talking about I find ironic.”

A Taxing Schedule

Uncle Sam's deadline may have been this week, but City Hall has it's own schedule. May 1 is the deadline for business personal property tax returns. Any business that has not received a tax return should contact the city immediately or download the form from the city's website.

All returns should be accompanied by an asset listing or federal depreciation schedule, and city officials say they will conduct a statutory assessment of any business not filing by the deadline. The city will also assess a late filing penalty of $10 or five percent of the tax due, whichever is greater, for failure to file a return by the due date. The penalty will not exceed $500 if a return is filed within the first 30 days after the due date.

All returns should be accompanied by an asset listing or federal depreciation schedule to determine the correct classification of equipment, which will be the basis for the city's annual business personal property tax assessment.

Energetic Commonwealth

Natural gas infrastructure can be expanded in economic development projects. Thermal energy and landfill gas can now be considered renewable sources of energy. State vehicles will be converted to alternative fuels. And the state energy plan will be amended to encourage Virginia-based production.

Republican Gov. Bob McDonnell signed 13 pieces of legislation this week he says will advance Virginia as what he calls the “energy capital of the East Coast.” The legislation continues the governor's all-of-the-above strategy for advancing development of Virginia's energy resources.

“We have sustained winds off of the Atlantic coast, bountiful coalfields in southwestern Virginia, rich natural gas deposits along with some of the top scientists and research institutions in the world,” said McDonnell in a written statement. “We will continue to develop all of Virginia's energy resources, even as we encounter roadblocks from a federal government that professes similar goals but has failed to follow up with actions.”